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Eyes on the Street: New Arches on the Sixth Street Bridge

Sixth Street bridge under construction

The new Sixth Street Bridge - technically the Sixth Street Viaduct - has arches. Well, sort of. They look like arches, but they are actually just the temporary wooden falsework that will hold up the permanent arches during construction.

The bridge extends nearly a mile from Boyle Heights over the L.A. River and into downtown. Construction broke ground in 2015 for the new half-billion dollar Sixth Street Viaduct, which replaces the now demolished historic 1932 viaduct. The new bridge will be wider and straighter - more like a freeway - than the one it replaced. It will have a new park below, but not the protected bike lanes originally promised.

The new bridge appears to make space for cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Source:
Rendering of the new Sixth Street Bridge. Source: city of L.A.

The new bridge had been due to open in early 2019, then in 2020. Now completion is expected in 2022. At groundbreaking the project was budgeted at $420 million. By 2019, that had risen to $482 million. Today the project website states the project cost at $588 million - a 40 percent cost overrun.

When Streetsblog reported on construction in 2018, the large Y-shaped structures at the base of the arches appeared complete.

In the last couple months, the city has completed more than a half-dozen of the bridge's falsework arches.

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The Sixth Street Bridge is now less than two years away from complete, and it’s not far from looking like it’s final form. The city’s Board of Public Works received an update on the project last week, which also showed that the bridge now has a paved roadway, with some metalwork along the side outlining where arches are going to go. When it's finished, the bridge will measure about 3,500 feet, just like the old Sixth Street Viaduct, which was torn down in 2016. The new bridge will stretch from the Arts District to Boyle Heights - spanning not only the L.A. River but the 101 freeway and 18 railroad tracks operated by five different railroad agencies. It is also still on schedule to be completed by the summer of 2022.

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Arch building started at the east end of the project. Falsework arches are visible over the 101 Freeway.

Falsework arches visible on the new Sixth Street Viaduct.
The Y-shaped columns will support the final 6th Street Bridge arches
View of 6th Street Bridge construction at Clarence Street
Sixth Street Bridge construction taking shape

For more information on the Sixth Street Viaduct, see earlier SBLA coverage or the city’s project website.

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